“So, um, Great-Great Grandma…”
“Please, call me Afjeuipoytapo. It is my true name.”
“Grandma…” I said. “Maybe you shouldn’t tell them that.”
“Ah – what? Ayf – juicy – ?”
“No, Serp, it’s more like Aff – chewy – boy – tap – o.”
“….How about we just go with Triple-G?”
“Don’t mind me,” said Tasia. “Just cleaning up a puddle here. Don’t ask me who peed, cause it wasn’t me.”
“No, I would prefer you don’t,” my grandma sighed. “But you may call me Elder Anna or Nana Anna if that would make you more comfortable. I know how it is.”
“And for your information,” I said. “It’s Aff – jew – ee – poi – tap – oh.”
“Precisely. Thank you.”
“Okay, fine, pronunciation schematics aside, I have a question. Well, now I have two questions. First, why the heck do you want to be called by such a bizarre name? Second, do you have any idea what makes Gran so special? She’s given birth to lots of kids without ever aging, she always seems to know what’s going on around her even when she’s not in a room, and she can trigger the growth of kids who aren’t her biological offspring. And she’s only recently become comfortable with magic. So what exactly has she been doing before now? I figure you or Great-Grandma would know because you…well, you both give off the same genetic vibes as Gran, but yours are strongest.”
“Please don’t tell her, Mother,” said Mom. “We have a saying here. ‘Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.'”
“Not exactly a vote of confidence, since I also know what you’re talking about. And killing all of us would be a waste,” said my dad.
“I do too,” said Ira. “By accident. Sorry.”
“Well…” said Mom. “I suppose it’s not much of a secret anymore, is it?”
“Mom!” I said weakly.
“Okay, what the heck is going on here? Half the family knows a secret the other half doesn’t know?”
“It’s more like a small percentage,” I said. “Not half.”
“Well, now it’s official. The only people I trust are Scarab and Carrie.”
“I don’t blame you. But Clark and Devon are pretty trustworthy too.”
“Holly, come. We will talk somewhere more private. I will answer your questions. Granddaughter, is there such a place?”
“You shouldn’t tell her,” I said stubbornly.
“Well, that is not your decision. It is mine. I am the one who started all this.”
The last remaints of my resolve crumbled. What did it matter anymore? All of my kids may as well know. At least, the ones I knew who wouldn’t go around in public blabbing. Which was most of them. I raise good kids.
“The kids’ bedroom should be empty right now.”
“I believe your first question was in regards to my name. I was called that on my home planet. It is what you Sims call a given or birth name. I was born to it.”
“Wait a minute. Your home planet?”
“Yes. Haoupe. That was my home for a long time.”
“Holy unicorn…so you’re saying I’m – we, Gran’s – ”
“You’re descended from an alien, yes. Or a Haoupean. Which I prefer to be called.”
“I’m sorry. My theory was that we’re a race of super-Sims. Then when I saw you and felt your genes, I thought you might be an elf. But…an alien? Oh, this explains why I couldn’t find anything. I was looking in all the wrong places! Well, maybe. Um, exactly how long have your…well, people been here?”
“I am the only native Haoupean here. There are other aliens, but they are not native Haoupe.”
“Oh. Why is that? I thought…well, I thought aliens come here to study us. I’ve heard of them abducting us.”
“Those are the other aliens. Haoupeans are peaceful. We don’t just go around kidnapping and probbing people. We prefer to allow nature to take its course.”
“But…you’re not natural to our planet. That’s why we call you aliens.”
“I know. That is why I was studied. Because I am Haoupean.”
“For many years, I was kept in a laboratory. One run by your government. They studied me. It was rather unpleasant. I was not free. I could not leave. But there were some sun spots. I became friends with your Great-Great Grandfather Porfirio Queen, and in time we fell in love. One day he freed me from the laboratory. I changed my name to Anna to stay safe. We married. I became Anna Queen, and we had our daughter, Victoria. She grew up quicker than human Sims. On Haoupe, it is a normal rate. But here it is not. All of the abilities you mentioned are simply natural to us.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Um, but how did you get here in the first place?” And why is this something Gran wants to keep from us?”
“It is a secret from the outside world, because the government would like me back. They have a reward out. And as to how I am here and not home…I came through a portal to escape my overbearing parents. They wanted me to become what you would call a plant. I am more like a seed, or a leaf. I do not like staying in one place.”
“As for Elena…I am sure she is trying to protect me from the government. Isn’t that right, granddaughter?”
Yeah. Pretty much.
“So everything that’s peculiar about Gran, I can just explain away by saying she’s got alien blood?”
“No. You can never tell people outside your family.”
“I wasn’t going to.”
I doubted the rest of my family heard what Holly and Grandma were saying. Scarab was playing Deck the Halls while Clark looked on longingly. At the guitar, not his brother.
“Hey, I challenge you to a dance-off,” said Devon.
“You’re on,” said Scarab.
“I’ll provide the music,” said Clark.
“You can’t beat this!”
“Beat that? I can copy your every move!”
“Copying’s cheating, bro.”
“Who said I’m copying? All I’m saying is it’d be easy to copy you if I were.”
“That’s not what I heard.”
“This is how real dancing’s done.”
“No. That’s just how you moon Clark.”
“So, what do you think they’re talking about back there?”
“The voices say they don’t know.”
“I’m not asking the voices. I’m asking you, Carrie. What do you think?”
“I don’t know, Serp. The voices don’t know and so I don’t know. Usually they tell me when they know so since they don’t then I don’t.”
“Come on, don’t you want to at least theorize? Throw out some guesses? How about I start? Triple-G is probably telling Holly that Mom was genetically experimented on as a child and hasn’t been the same since.”
“I don’t think so. If Mom was experimented on, wouldn’t they have taken away her fertility so she couldn’t have more than a hundred kids in the end?”
“No, not if they wanted to continue the experiment. I bet we’re being watched right now by a bunch of crazy scientists!”
“You hear that, scientists! We’re on to you! We’re going to find your mind probes and your cameras and destroy them!”
“Bro, you’re talking as crazy as me now.”
“I don’t like the idea of being spied on.”
“The only cameras around here are the ones I put up for security reasons. So please don’t go around breaking them. Kay? Thanks.”
“Got it, Mom. No need to interrupt,” said Serpent. “I was just kidding.”
“So, Carrie, any more ideas?” Serpent asked.
“I don’t think so…sorry,” she mumbled.
“I’m sorry if that came off harsh,” I said. “I didn’t mean it to be. I guess I’ll just make myself scarce. Carry on.”
I felt pretty left out. And it seemed like Carrie got cagey when she realized I was listening. I thought it was probably because I was essentially a stranger to her.
“Hey, Scarab, are you gonna tell me what exactly Serpent and Carrie got into?”
“Depends. Where’s Carrie?”
“Not sure. Not this room.”
“I guess I can, then.” And he told me the long-winded version of the story. The simple version is that Liam had a case brought against him by child services and he went to court to keep his kids. Serpent and Scarab testified on Liam’s behalf, but Serpent managed to implicate himself in criminal activity unrelated to Liam’s case. Carrie did the same. Serpent got away with it because there was no concrete evidence against him. Carrie, however, had a stash of stolen items at Liam’s house that the police found. Murders, the creepy maid Betsy, a harem, and shrink services for Carrie were also mixed in there, but I got so lost and confused I made Scarab stop.
I went over to Dad because I saw him reading. I remembered how he used to read to me at night. It was because of the books he read me that I named some of my children after my favorite characters.
“Are you done ignoring me?”
“I wasn’t ignoring you. I’ve just got so many people I want to spend time with, and there’s only one of me.”
“Too bad your grandma’s not one of the cloning types, eh?”
“Yeah. By the way, thanks. For, you know, not starting any arguments today. I noticed it, and I really appreciate it.”
“It’s not like I have anything to argue about, you know. You’re not pregnant with whatever number kid it would be now. I really don’t care if your grandma spills her secret all over the place. And in any case I made a promise. It’s Christmas, after all. The one time of the year when people give themselves permission to take a chill pill.”
“Really? I want to spend Christmas with those people.”
“I said they give themselves permission, not that they use it.”
“Mom, do you want to talk? I know it’s hard on you when you talk about your time at the lab.”
“I’m fine. And I say that without any double meaning meant. I’ve done this enough. I’ve learned to detach.”
“Are you sure?”
“The only part that hurt was when I mentioned your father. I miss him.”
“I do too. But we’ll see him when we die.”
“Which won’t be for a long time yet, sweetie, so don’t worry. You need me, I’ll be there. Of course, you probably won’t need me or even remember me, but let’s not open that wound.”
“They’ll remember us, Victoria. They’re vampire, alien, and have some fairy in them too. All have long memories and lives.”